The professional doesn’t believe that the time they spend in their chosen endeavor isn’t what makes them a professional. They know that there are others who have worked in their field for years—or decades—who are still not professionals. K. Anders Ericsson’s research on expertise doesn’t suggest that you become an expert in 10,000 hours. It states that you need 10,000 hours of deliberate practice, something very different from going through the motions without the intention of improving.
- Start with the intention to improve what you do, no matter how well you presently do things, and no matter how successful you are now.
The professional continues to learn, to make new distinctions, to uncover new ideas and subtleties. The read books and articles from their field, or they listen to them on audio. They take courses and continue their education, working to discover new ideas, new choices, and new ways to do things. The professional believes there is more knowledge to uncover.
- Develop a personal and professional development plan that provides you with continuous education and continual growth.
One of the defining characteristic of the professional is their preparation, their routines. They follow a pattern, or a system, or a process in preparing for what they do as a way to ensure successful outcomes. The professional doesn’t “wing it” or “fly by the seat of their pants.” The reason they are able to effectively improvise when necessary is because they have done the work to prepare, including knowing their outcome.
- Prepare and plan the work you do to ensure the outcomes are the best you are capable of producing and that allow you to adjust and improvise.
There is value in reviewing your own performance, assessing what is working, what isn’t working, and what might need to change to produce better results. The professional recognizes when something isn’t working or when an approach has lost its effectiveness. They are critical of their own work and methods, which is what allows them to seek new ideas, new answers, and new approaches. The willingness to let go of what they believe and adopt new ones is how the professional gets better.
- Assess yourself, your beliefs, your approach, and your methods, taking in new beliefs, trying new strategies, and shoring up any deficiencies in your approach.
A true professional holds themselves accountable for producing the highest quality outcomes. They raise the bar because they believe they are capable of improving their work and the outcomes they produce. The standard they hold isn’t an external standard or the industry standard. They don’t hold themselves to what another entity requires or “best practices.” The standard they set for themselves is internal, exceeding any external expectation.
Raise your own personal standard for the work you do and the outcomes you produce.
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